Justin Wright

Weekly Recap - Week of 11.29.21

published6 months ago
5 min read

Happy Monday!

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This week, we take a deep dive into decentralization and the magic of distributed systems.

As a brief disclaimer: any links for items, books, etc. that are available for purchase are done through an affiliate program. This means that I get paid a small pittance of money for everything you buy using my links. I don't recommend things I haven't read/used, so using these links helps me out and gets you great products!

Distributed Systems

The internet is currently rampant with crypto buzzwords, and chances are you are at least vaguely familiar with cryptocurrencies at this stage in the game. I wanted to give a brief breakdown of the current end goal of these systems, and why the technological future may provide opportunities for the developing world in ways you may not have imagined.

Blockchain technology, in short, allows for an infinite number of computers, called nodes, to contribute to and verify a ledger of transactions. Imagine that you are editing a single Google doc with a million other people, and all of you currently agree on what is going to be written. Say, for example, this Google doc is meant to mirror Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address speech word for word. Everyone who is editing the Google doc can verify its contents against the speech that they all have access to. If a rogue user decides to add in some quotes from the film, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer instead, the other users will realize something is amiss and correct it.

The true beauty of blockchain is that it creates a trust-less system; people can work together without having to vet their respective credentials because the system itself is taking care of all verification steps throughout the process. The other benefit is that collaboration can occur between different systems at different corners of the globe. Because we can trust that what we are seeing and doing is true, it reduces the friction of remote teams in the modern age.

Everything I have just described is classified as a decentralized system; that is, one in which there is no single point of decision-making and all nodes can function independently. This works as a great proof-of-concept for the technology, but is not the end goal. As these systems evolve, they will approach true distributed systems: ones in which processing of decisions is handled across multiple nodes working together.

In a distributed world, it will be easy for individuals to track and verify where every component of their clothing was sourced and created. It becomes easy to verify that your jewelry is not the byproduct of blood diamond trades in war-torn nations. You can even ensure that the cup of coffee you drink in the morning came from sustainable farms and that those workers were adequately compensated for their time and effort.

In a world where all systems are distributed, developing nations benefit from the technological advancements of the world's superpowers. It becomes possible to create a higher quality of living for everyone by reducing the friction required for many simple transactions. Medical records can be verified and transferred easily, so that international travelers can receive swift medical care should anything happen while they are abroad. Even green energy initiatives become more robust if all systems involved can quickly and easily communicate to reduce waste and allow for the efficient transfer of electricity.

Many of the bullets in the Hit List below dive deeper into blockchain and distributed systems. If you want to know where the world is going, and you want to see what some of the intelligent optimists are working to develop, I encourage you to dive deeper!

Hit List

The most interesting things I've read, heard, or encountered this week:

The frontier of innovation: Decentralization by Naval

Prince. Sting. Bono. Naval. All people who only really need one name to identify them. Naval is an incredible figure in the entrepreneurial world, but I like that he can deliver very dense packets of knowledge in digestible chunks. This article (and accompanying podcast) is about the tug-of-war between centralization and decentralization, as well as merits for each.

Speaking of, a great book: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson

Naval has spread his knowledge and wisdom across many channels, tweets, mini podcasts, guest appearances, etc. This book does an excellent job of summarizing, and organizing, some of Naval's best nuggets. I'm always a fan of people who get me to think more deeply and question my belief systems. This book will do just that. (Also, the Kindle version is currently only $2.99!)

A social media account worth following: Groundnews on Instagram and their Website

This Instagram account was shared with me by a fellow coach, and I have recently begun exploring their web page more often as well. I try to confront my own biases often and look at other points of view. I find the current news media machine unbearable, polarizing, and often plain incorrect. This site does a great job of examining news stories, giving a variety of headlines from different publications, and pointing out blind spots you may experience if you only consume media that leans left, right, etc. Now, more than ever, I think this website is incredibly important.

A great summary of blockchain: Blockchain: The Next Everything by Stephen P. Williams

If you want a really great, concise, and simple overview of blockchain and decentralization, this book is an excellent place to start. I reference it often when trying to explain this technology to colleagues, or to inquisitive friends and family who have only heard buzzwords on news and social media.

Oh, you wanted more blockchain?: Is the music industry's future on the blockchain? by Casey Newton is a company that just raised a $55 million round and is empowering music artists to license fractions of their songs directly to fans. This allows fans to participate in royalties generated by the music, and then trade those tokens of ownership on a secondary market. One of the coolest current things about this technology is that it is allowing artists to make a living with their art, something that was very difficult to do successfully before.

A course I'm launching: Optimize your home audio/video setup for virtual meetings!

This course is launching soon, so I just wanted to give out another quick reminder: I have put together a course to teach you how to optimize your home video setups now that working from home is so common. Using my experience in film production, I wanted to create a simple guide that tells you exactly what to buy and how to plug everything in. Even with no additional equipment, there are small tricks that can make you look and sound better on your Zoom calls and virtual meetings. If you want to get on the waiting list for when it officially launches soon, click here!

That will do it for this week! Please let me know what you liked, didn't like, and what you want to see more of. Do you want it to be longer, shorter? Do you want specific topics covered more? Less? Have a wonderful week, and remember to please forward this to your friends -- helping get the word out and get more eyes on this newsletter is hugely helpful and greatly appreciated!

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